December 2013

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photo: The Brand Factory Group of Companies King West Condominiums in Liberty Village by Yvan Marston n a skyline awash with tower cranes and residential development, it is easy to lose track of what can differentiate the thousands of 450-square-foot condo units flooding the market. But when you look at larger two- and three-bedroom spaces, all of a sudden the market narrows. It is a viable market nonetheless, explains Scott McLellan of Plazacorp, whose King West Condominiums project in Liberty Village in the west end of Toronto's downtown specializes in offering larger living spaces. "We asked our broker and real estate agent community for feedback about the demand in the market and we used that to design something compatible," says McLellan. I Location 65-75-85 East Liberty Street, Toronto, Ontario Owner Plazacorp Retail Properties Ltd. Architect of Record Gabriel Bodor Architect Inc. Design Architect Quadrangle Architects Limited Construction Manager TMG Builders Structural Consultant Jablonsky, Ast and Partners Consulting Engineers Mechanical/ Electrical Consultant Concord Consultants Ltd. Landscape Architect Terraplan Landscape Architects Interior Design Bryon Patton and Associates Total Area 992,401 square feet Project Cost $160 million 86/    december 2013 p86-87King West Condos.indd 86 With an eye to the empty nesters and young urban professionals with kids, the challenge was to develop sellable units that had one or two bedrooms with a proper den, expansive living areas and one-and-a-half bathrooms. Of the two groups, empty nesters are perhaps the most intriguing buyers. The condo market is beginning to respond to the demographic shift that is seeing boomers sell the family home in favour of a similarly large living space unencumbered by the challenges of homeownership. This trend is in part what pushed Plazacorp beyond its comfort zone, building for density to headline one of the city's largest residential condominium projects. A one-million-square-foot complex, King West Condominiums has 34,000 square feet of amenity space, three individual lobbies, two courtyards and four levels of underground. It is the first of two Plazacorp projects in the area. The second, The Tower at King West, is a 26-storey building located a block north of the King West Condominiums project. The city's neighbourhood master plan of the proposed floor plate for The Tower project was too large for a condominium building, explains Les Klein , principal in charge of the project at Quadrangle Architects. "We had some changes made to the zoning bylaw that allowed us to give some of The Tower's allowable GFA to the King West Condominiums project," he says, explaining that this is how the project gained the square footage it needed to realize the firm's design. A series of three towers rising from a 10-storey podium set on the east side of Liberty Village, the King West Condominiums development is distinguishable from its monolithic peers by its distinctive terraced design that sees it step back from the community it serves. "One of the great things about stepping the building is that instead of balconies, you have full terraces across the width of the tower," says Klein, whose firm was responsible for the preliminary design of the project, which was later executed by Gabriel Bodor Architect Inc. as the architect of record. The original site plan called for a trio of 20-storey towers sitting atop an eight-storey podium connecting the buildings. But this design would have cast a shadow over the park across from the site. To accommodate the need for towers that provided a maximum number of suites with a view to the lake, while preventing the project's massing from blocking the park's access to south sun, Quadrangle proposed a series of three stepped towers. The centre tower rises to 24 storeys and is flanked by two 23-storey sentinels. Between the towers are two large landscaped courtyards at the second floor that cover the ground level so that all vehicle activity is enclosed and out of sight. With the centre tower acting as the amenity hub, which includes a gym, pool, spa, HD movie theatre, bowling alley, games room and sports simulation room, its base also allows users access to each courtyard. To protect the south end of the space from the noise of the nearby railway and expressway, a three-storey-high row of units in each courtyard provides shelter without blocking most of the day's sun. And rather than an eight-storey podium, as was originally specified in the area's urban design guidelines, Quadrangle designed a 10-storey one with an industrial feel using a masonry construction and heavy precast concrete window sills. To lighten the effect of each tower's mass, the upper storeys above the podium combine window wall systems with brick-patterned square arches that reach up from the podium. The brick-patterned precast panels that cover the podium are becoming more common in downtown developments, says Steve Viola, the senior project manager for TMG Builders, explaining that using these panels over traditional hand-set bricks has a number of advantages, including ease of installation and long-term durability that provides value from a building maintenance perspective. On this project, the precast panels were typically 16 feet or two-storeys high with a width that depended on the architectural detailing. Other factors such as crane weight capacities also figure into the panel sizing. Once fastened to the building, a separate trade was brought in to stain the panel with the brick colour. While the use of precast panels helped save time, Viola says TMG's collaborative relationship with Plazacorp was instrumental in meeting its timelines. Specifically, the developer secured temporary access to the land south of the site for TMG to use as a staging location for hoisting materials. Since the Front Street extension project was aborted, the land to the south remains vacant, but Liberty Village's residential hub infuses everything to the north, east and west with motion. The neighbourhood's conversion from a dilapidated manufacturing warehouse district in the 1970s to a vibrant live and work zone is seeing a new stage as its demographic begins to include families. Whether it is grandparents hosting their extended kin or couples expecting their first child, King West Condominiums larger living spaces are inviting a change in the population of the area by providing space that is an alternative to homeownership. As Les Klein of Quadrangle explains, it is critical that the elements that people love about their homes are elements that can be in these spaces. "People don't want to feel they have lost something by moving to a condo. They want to feel they have gained something," he says. n King West Condominiums in Liberty Village 13-11-15 4:13 PM

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